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How to Transition Your Social Media Accounts When Someone Leaves? Tonight on #localgovchat.

March 20, 2013

A few prominent local government agencies here in DC recent lost their lead social media managers and, well, a few people voiced their frustration over the new tweets and posts. Anytime there is change there are bound to be a few hiccups.

But after checking out one of the accounts in question, it appeared they were:

  • Being responsive
  • There were no long lulls between updates
  • It looked like business as usual

The frustration, I found out after asking a few questions, was not over responsiveness but HOW the account leads were responding. It was about engagement.

Now the former manager was witty, funny (too much for some people’s tastes) and really infused his personality into everything. He was going to be a tough act to follow. But the personality change – or lack of any personality – was so drastic for some that it raised a few eyebrows and started to negatively affect the brand.

This wasn’t a question of personal branding – very few people actually knew this manager’s name – but of voice. The account had, at least temporarily, lost its voice.

So when your lead gets ready to move on, how to you keep that voice consistent especially when it was so liked.

  • Do you interview for funny and witty?
  • Do you keep the wit and humor that people love tampered down to ensure it can be maintained after a departure?
  • Or do you take the small brand hit and hope people will grow to love the new person?

We’ll kick of the new era of #localgovchat tonight at 9pm EST with this topic and more. Hope people can join us!

How One Night of #WMATA Social Media Silence Killed Months of Earned Goodwill

January 26, 2012

By Mike Rupert @rupertmike

Just two hours ago, the DC Metro system also known as WMATA ground to a halt. The crisis was apparently caused by a complete meltdown of the transit service’s servers and/or power systems. The issue caused the operations, communications systems and website to go completely offline.

Hundreds if not thousands of tweets from across the region started flying in right after 11 p.m. on Thursday night. Yet both the @wmata Twitter handle and the semi-personal Twitter handle of its chief spokesperson Dan Stessel @dstessel were absolutely silent.

One of the most powerful benefits of engaging on social media is to bring goodwill to your organization. If you engage, be transparent, and human online, people who use your service – whether you’re a restaurant, nail salon, or major metropolitan mass transit system – will give you a little leeway, cut you a little break during a hiccup.

Metro has done a great job recently reaching out to customers, addressing criticism, highlighting improvements and generally opened up the agency to the public. They have been lauded for their recent efforts even by those who have historically been its biggest critics. Yet months, even years, of public relations and community outreach efforts are quickly forgotten when a real crisis occurs and you neglect the relationships you worked so hard to build during tough times.

Sure you’re ‘new friend’ is great to hangout with when things are great. They’ll come hangout, have a few drinks. But when you run out of gas or lock your keys in the car, do they suddenly forget to answer the phone?

Even if they can’t help you right now, they should still ‘answer the phone’ and say sorry. Tonight, Metro didn’t even let it go to voicemail. Everyone received a “this line has been disconnected” message.

In just two hours, Metro has killed any goodwill they have earned over the past year. They’ll have to work twice as hard to earn all that back now.

Having a COOP/Crisis plan is essential for an organization that operates at this scale – not just from an operations standpoint, but from a communications and public relations standpoint.

DC Fire Communications Director @wallscomm says “Social Media is for parties.” So Let’s Party!

September 22, 2011

UPDATE 12:50 pm: Tim Craig from the Washington Post reports via Twitter that the DC Fire and EMS Twitter account will resume operations today, with no filter, and an additional back up resource. Kudos to DC Fire and EMS for making the right decision quickly.

I think it’s essential city leaders to understand why their decision was met with such criticism.  We need to ensure those in charge of communications – especially at first-responder/life safety agencies – understand how important and powerful these tools can be. – MR


When I read the recent comments from new DC Fire ad EMS Communications Director Lon Walls in the DCist this evening my jaw literally hit the floor. Here is the quote:

“Social media is for parties. We ain’t givin’ parties.” – Lon Walls, via @dcist_updates

With all of the ink given to debunk this antiquated mindset – especially in DC over the past two years with #snowmageddon, hurricanes, earthquakes – you’d think that a professional communicator would be the last person to utter those words.

But rather than ridicule and staying in the spirit of “If you get it, share it,” I thought we’d throw a little something for Mr. Walls.

And if we’re going to have a social media party, you’ve gotta invite some folks. So who is in?

1. FEMA is in. And they’re bringing Google, Microsoft, Apple, and Twitter. FEMA Director Craig Fugate had other plans but decided, “We can adjust much quicker if we can figure out how to have this two-way conversation and if we can look at the public as a resource. The public is putting out better situational awareness than many of our own agencies can.”

2. The Red Cross has RSVP’d. Four of five (80 percent) of the general and 69 percent of the online populations surveyed believe that national emergency response organizations should regularly monitor social media sites in order to respond promptly. And it turns out Red Cross will be coming with LAFD.

3. The Los Angeles Fire Department is bringing 2 guests: @lafdtalk and @LAFD_CERT_BATT5.

4. The National Fire Protection Association wouldn’t miss it. They’re pushing all of their friends to come too.

5. The Seattle Police Department is in the house.

6. New York City will be there.

7. Lodi Police Department (New Jersey) will be there. They might check their twitter feed to get situational awareness before they come like they did during Irene though.

8. You can count on Emergency Management – the award-winning, all-hazards publication of record for emergency management” – to be the first to arrive.

9. And I know it can be expensive to throw a party. So the Crisis Commons folks have volunteered to help out.

10. We’ve also got a poster for the “get together.” Click it to enlarge.

Feel free to invite others in the comments section below.

Disclosure: I am a former communications director with the DC Government and helped lead the development of the city’s original social media strategy and launched the city’s first Twitter account @dcra and trained several others in effective use of these tools.

What can state, local gov learn from #dotgov initiative & why you should participate

September 21, 2011

The Federal government just launched a national dialogue on ways to improve federal government websites by asking a simple question: What practices, policies, and principles should guide federal websites?

This dialogue is already extremely active and is broken down in specific categories and competencies.

So my question is: Can state and local governments learn from this exercise? Do state and local governments have the same pain points as federal websites?

Tonight we pull out some of the main topics from the dialogue and discuss.

Join us tonight at 9 EST. See you there!

Tonight’s Special Guest on #localgovchat: Reno’s Kristy ‘GovGirl’ Fifelski talks web, disasters, advertising

August 31, 2011

Fifelski’s most recent vlog on the ‘searchification’ of of government websites


We are excited to have Kristy Fifelski, @kristyfifelski, web manager for the City of Reno and creator of, as our special guest tonight on #localgovchat.

Kristy manages the award-winning website and employee intranet by day and recently began an exciting new video blog to share her experiences, opinions and even reviews new technology. Oh, and she’s funny too.

With the earthquakes, hurricanes, floods and other things Mother Nature is throwing at us lately, Kristy will shed light on how to prepare, organize, respond and recover from disasters using the web.

There has also been a of discussion recently on whether government could leverage advertising during these tough budget times to bring us out of the red. And she’s got some opinions.

Join Kristy and the rest of the #localgovchat gang tonight 8/31 at 9 EST.

Tonight’s #localgovchat – Healthy Social Media Communities Need Politicians and Government Voices

July 27, 2011

Quick thoughts on tonight’s discussion:

There are the politicians and there is the government. There is a distinct separation. Government social media accounts should promote and support services. The politician accounts should be used to support the special initiatives and agendas.

Government and services are continuous. Initiatives and agendas have (or should have) a clear beginning and end – like a politician. There is room for both. And there needs to be both to build a healthy social community.

Join us tonight on #localgovchat at 9 EST tonight. Follow the #hashtag and jump right in.

Tonight on #localgovchat: IT vs. Comms – Can We All Get Along

June 29, 2011


Join us at 9 EST for #localgovchat where we’ll be discussing user interface, communications, marketing apps and more. Can IT and Communications play nicely in the sandbox together? Or do we all need hybrid departments merge a little of each?

Join us!

(And yes I’m at the park with my kids and needed a quick photo.:) )


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